Who Thought Trees Were Such a Good Idea Anyway?

Team Stimey spent a chunk of the weekend raking leaves. And by “Team Stimey,” I mean Alex, Sam, and I. The other two showed themselves to be far too unmotivated to participate so they escaped this particular fate.

My family operates on a “prove yourself to be incompetent and you no longer have to do the chore” system. It is inefficient.

Selfie of me, Alex and Sam in front of a pile of leaves. Sam is wearing his black fedora.

Team Stimey: Leaf Raking Edition

You may notice that Sam’s jazz band hat is also a leaf raking hat.

I bring up the leaf raking for a couple of reasons. First of all, there were some fun things that happened during said leaf raking and I thought I would share them with you. Also, we won our street’s leaf raking and I wanted to brag about it.

Photo of Sam and Alex dumping a tarp load of leaves onto a GIANT PILE.

Our neighbors didn’t know that they were involved in a Leaf Off, but we did and that is what matters.

I don’t know why we moved into a house with so many stupid trees in the yard, but we did, and now we are paying the price. So. Many. Leaves.

Photo of Alex and Sam dragging a tarp full of leaves past the back of our house where there is a tree, full of red leaves.

DROP YOUR STUPID LEAVES ALREADY, TREE!

I’m looking forward to all of the tracking in of leaves once that tree up there finally drops its leaves right next to our back door in, you know, December. Or January. ENOUGH ALREADY, TREE. WHY ARE YOU HOLDING ON SO HARD?

I tried to avoid leaf raking and hang inside with Quinn and Jack, but Alex used his patented mix of guilt, exasperation, and annoyance to get me outside with a rake in my hands. He then spent a lot of time telling me about how his way to rake and transport leaves was correct and mine was not and, “Let’s just do it right the first time and then we don’t have to re-rake up all the leaves.” It was très annoying—especially when he was right.

On the plus side, I got to see this awesome visitor to our yard:

Photo of a giant antlered stag in profile. He just started loping away from our yard.

I watched one of our cats see this guy the last time he was in our yard. Her little cat eyeballs almost popped out of her head.

I also got to do things like distract Sam and generally be a nuisance while Alex steadfastly did things.

Sam in his hat holding a rake and posing for my photo while Alex rakes in the background.

At least he could take comfort in the knowledge that he was doing it right.

At some point—because Alex had to be somewhere, not because we ran out of leaves, we’ll never run out of leaves—we made a decision to be done.

Then I shoved Alex in the pile of leaves.

You can see a pile of leaves with the bottom half of Alex's body sticking out. His head and shoulders are completely buried.

It was HILARIOUS.

Then Sam and Alex got this…look in their eyes and I started running and screaming because I know it is funny to throw people into a pile of leaves, but it is NOT funny to be thrown in a pile of leaves because DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY SPIDERS ARE PROBABLY IN THERE?! so I tried to sprint through the garage door into the house, but they caught me and they didn’t listen when I told them, “No. Really. I’m serious about this. I don’t want to be thrown into the pile of leaves. I really, really don’t,” but this came out sounding more like a high-pitched screech that turned out to be surprisingly ineffectual.

And then they threw me in a pile of leaves.

Me in a pile of leaves. I don't look happy.

I’m pretty sure the spiders laid their eggs in my hair.

Now we’re looking into a tree slaughter, under the assumption that if we cut down all of our trees, we won’t have to rake any leaves next year.*

* Kidding. But wouldn’t that have its charms?

In Defense of Jerry Seinfeld

I should start by saying that I have been scripting Seinfeld the TV show for years. If you’re talking to me and I bust out with some non sequitur that is only semi-appropriate to the situation, odds are that Jerry Seinfeld said it first.

So I was interested when I first saw news reports about Jerry Seinfeld saying he thinks he might be on the spectrum. And then I felt happy. And then I checked social media and I saw lots of anger at him. And then I felt kinda sad and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know Jerry Seinfeld. I don’t know his private life. I don’t know how he came to the conclusion that he is autistic. And what’s probably most important, I don’t know his inner life—what goes on inside his own head. None of us do, so I don’t think we are qualified to weigh in on whether he is autistic or not.

Here’s something else: It is very scary as an adult to come out as autistic. It is very scary as an adult who has “passed” for your whole life to come out as autistic. It is hard to tell people who might not believe you that you are autistic. I am absolutely positive that people have doubted my diagnosis, have said that I’m not autistic or not autistic enough.

I am not willing to do that to another person.

I will follow that up with the comment that I absolutely respect self-diagnosis and assert that there are many, many reasons that adults self-diagnose instead of seeking a professional opinion.

I also think it is hard to learn to own your autism when you come to it as an adult. There is a whole set of stigmas and hardships and abuses and discrimination that people who are diagnosed and out as young people have to deal with that I did not. I don’t have that experience. What I have is the very nervewracking experience of growing up different and eventually finding a name for it and finding the courage to take that label for myself.

Still, it is hard to take that label, especially when you have been trying to live as a neurotypical person. So I don’t take much offense to Seinfeld’s use of “on a drawn-out spectrum.” When I first started suspecting I was autistic, my statements were very tempered, “I have autistic traits…” and the like. It is too scary to just come out and say “I am autistic,” so it’s easier to make these softer statements like, “On a drawn-out spectrum…”

I do know that I identify with some aspects of his personality. I think about his comedy and his observational style of humor and about how so much of it is finding the absurd in the conventions of daily life.

I use humor. It is one of the most important things to me. I find life hilarious. I also use comedy as a shield. I use it as a defense mechanism. I use it to amuse myself when I find the typical world strange. I created an entire persona (hey there, Stimey!) that allows me to get out of the house and interact with the world without falling back into crushing depression or incapacitating anxiety. (Also medication. Meds help too.)

Furthermore, I have been closely observing people all of my life, from the gestures they use and the words they say to figuring out social conventions and how I’m supposed to react to things. I remember watching a scary movie as a young person and checking to see if people screamed words or just sounds so I would know what to do if I was ever attacked (by an alien). I remember watching people when I was in college and deciding that I should make eye contact because that’s what other people did, so I started doing it all the time. These are just a couple of examples.

I am not attributing my own feelings and past to Jerry Seinfeld. I’m just saying that when I think about what he said, it makes sense to me. Plus he hangs out with Larry David, and I’m sure those two have to have had conversations about autism, because have you ever listened to Larry David?

I do know that if I had come out as autistic and been attacked the way he has been, it would have broken me. I don’t know what is going on in his brain and I’m not going to judge. I hope he will choose to speak more about it and I hope it will help all of us in the autism community. Jerry Seinfeld has a huge public platform. I hope he uses it well.

That said, I also hope he finds identity and knowledge and acceptance just for himself, however he chooses to identify. Because that is what most of us want. Welcome, Jerry. I’m happy to have you in my community.

Happy Halloween!

I wanted to write a Halloween post if only to show off our pumpkins. I should admit that I had nothing to do with said pumpkins. I was out of town when Alex and the munchkins created them. They are stellar.

Photo of three pumpkin creations. All are spray painted black. One is carved with the mouth on top and the eyes on bottom. One is actually two pumpkins put together and made into a cat. The last one is a pretty traditional, but adorable jack o'lanternI love them so much.

That is Quinn’s pumpkin in the front with the mouth on the top and the eyes on the bottom. I am sort of in love with it. Straight-laced Alex was all, “I really didn’t want to do it that way.” But he did. And that is the important thing.

The little pumpkin way in the back is Jack’s. Usually the kiddos draw on the pumpkins or describe what they want and then one of us carves it. When I saw this sort of hacked at face though, I was all, “Alex! You let Jack carve his own pumpkin! Awesome!” His reply? “I did not.”

Then there is the cat. OMG, the cat. It is so good. Although its tail isn’t quite as fluffy now that it’s rained a few times. Also, I think because it is painted black, the sun is super hot on it and it is starting to melt or morph or something.

Two black pumpkins stacked on top of each other. White pipe cleaners make ears and whiskers. There is a green cat face painted on it. There is a fluffy black tail wrapped around the base. There is also a weird flat textured patch on the front.Fortunately it is Halloween, so it doesn’t have to last for much longer.

I wanted to post a video I have of Quinn performing a Halloween poem that he had to memorize for school, but when I asked if I could post it, he said, “NO!” so I’m sorry, but you can’t see it.

He did such a good job though. He was supposed to perform it in class like all the other kids, but that is a perfect recipe for an in-class meltdown and when I came to his teacher looking for alternatives, she suggested he do it at home and I videotape it. It was a GREAT idea. He did fantastic. I loved everything about it.

I hope you all have safe and happy Halloweens in whatever way you celebrate. (One of my kids goes trick or treating with me and the other two stay home and eat give out candy. And Alex goes to a Phish show.)

Happy Halloween!

p.s. And happy birthday to my sister, whose birthday is ON Halloween! You’re really old this year, Ann. 😁

Race Report: Bourbon Chasers*

* Bourbon is totally gross, by the way. Also, distilleries smell bad. I think maybe the bourbon part of this race was lost on me.

It is (finally, jeez) time for me to tell you about the Bourbon Chase, the relay I ran earlier this month with 11 other people. If you aren’t into reading the whole race report, I can tell you that we finished all 200 of our miles in 32 hours, 36 minutes, and 43 seconds.

This is a link to a short video of us crossing the finish line. LIKE BOSSES. (You have to sit through a quick ad first.)

And here is a photo of Team MLC after we finished:

Photo of the 12 members of my team posing for a photo after we crossed the finish line. We're all wearing neon green shirts and medals.

This is a really good group of people. I felt really proud to stand with them.

That was the short version. The long version lies ahead.

It’s hard to recap a race like this because the team is divided into two vans that don’t spend a lot of time together, so I will leave out at least half of the story. Not to mention that all twelve members of the team undoubtedly have their own stories that are nothing like mine. But I have my story, so that’s what you’re a-gonna hear.

The story starts after I arrived in Kentucky with several of my teammates and we headed to the grocery store to buy food for the vans, including soda and peanut M&Ms. You know, because we’re all about fueling properly.

Because I’m an athlete with total body awareness, the first thing I did was hurt myself getting out of the van. Aaaand someone caught it on camera.

Me getting out of a big white van. I have very clearly just banged my head on the door during my egress.

How I don’t have at least one broken bone at all times I will never understand.

The relay started in Louisville, where they had a night-before party. Said party took place under a bridge.

Photo of Chester wearing a small race bib and posed in front of a concrete banner reading "Louisville," which is under a bridge.

This was early in the evening. Chester is an early partier. More people showed up later.

I had a whole bit I was going to write about hors d’oeuvres and how it’s rare to be served them under a bridge and stuff, but then it turned out that it was too hard to figure out the pluralization and spelling of hors d’oeuvres, but “appetizers” didn’t sound as funny, so you’ll just have to make do with this photo of Chester eating a cocktail meatball and make your own joke in your head.

Photo of Chester next to a meatball on a stick. The meatball is as big as his head.

You can also make jokes about meatpops if you’d like.

The race started bright and early the next morning at the Jim Beam distillery.

Photo of a big building that says "Jim Beam" on the front and a small inflatable race start line to the left.

Picture me, who has been relatively calm up to this moment, breaking out into a flop sweat.

I was in Van One this year (as opposed to last year’s Van Two experience), so my half of the team was on deck as soon as our first runner stepped over the start line at 8:30. I was runner four in our rotation, so I had a bunch of time to stress out before my run. My friend Heather (Disney Heather) was Runner One, so she had substantially less time.

I was really proud of my whole team, but I was especially proud of Heather and my friend Emily, who was also in Van One. Both of them are relatively new runners (like they’ve been running for less than a year) so taking on something like the Bourbon Chase was really brave of them. The greatest thing about it is that both of them killed all three of their legs. I couldn’t be happier for them.

Still, at 8:30 in the morning, all of that was in the future and we were nervous and excited and peering anxiously at the cloudy sky and happily posing for dorky photos.

Me standing next to a statue of Jim Beam. The statue includes a cup in which Chester is sitting.

Chester hadn’t had enough of a party the night before, so he carried on with Jim Beam.

No amount of pacing and wondering if you could just make a break for it and skip out on the race entirely will stop time though, so eventually 8:30 rolled around and Heather headed out for our team.

Photo of runners heading out at the start line. Heather is in a neon green/yellow shirt in front.

Heather (in front in the yellow) earned a four-step head start for answering a trivia question correctly. Way to shave that second off our 32-hour finish time, Heather!

Happily, once the race starts, the nerves go away and the motion of being a support crew and a runner takes over. We didn’t have a designated driver this year (we missed you, Mike!), so several of us took turns driving the van.

Facebook post featuring a photo of me behind the steering wheel of the van. The post says, "This is the scariest part of the race for me—driving the team van. #didn'twreckit"

From Stimeyland’s Facebook page. And, no, I didn’t wreck it, but I wasn’t exactly invited back behind the wheel after my first turn. I wasn’t very good at driving it. I was better as a navigator. And I’m not even all that great as a navigator.

I started my first leg at about 11 o’clock that morning. This leg was only 5.2 miles long, but it had the distinction of being ranked as the hardest leg of all 36 of the legs. This was mitigated by my having less hard legs later. That leg may have been tough, but I absolutely did not have the hardest trio of legs. Not by a long shot.

(Leg.)

Still, that leg kinda sucked. It was ranked so high in difficulty because of all the hills, including a super steep, half-mile long hill at the very end. I think the next two photos say a lot more about this leg than any of my words could.

Photo of me heading off on my run with a big smile on my face. Emily, who has just passed the wrist baton to me looks happy to be done.

Emily has just passed me the baton and I am off on an adventure! Look how happy I am to be running!

5.2 miles later…

I am walking as the next runner takes the baton and heads off on her leg. I look like I could drop dead AT ANY SECOND.

There were more flattering photos taken of me and Marisa at this transition, but this one best captures how I could probably DROP DEAD AT ANY SECOND.

Also, I just noticed that it looks like Marisa and I are shoe twins. That’s exciting!

One of the really fun parts of running these relay races—and I am being completely sarcastic here—is figuring out when, where, and how to change clothes while sharing a van with five other people. I chose to change my clothes in the van at the next transition point when we were waiting for Marisa to run in. Everyone else was out of the van, so naturally I had all kinds of privacy.

Except. This is what they were doing while I was changing.

Photo taken from the inside of the van of one of the team members writing in window marker on the window.

I know! I’ll wait until the whole team is decorating the windows of the van surrounding me before I take my clothes off!

Someday I’ll get the hang of being with other humans.

I feel like Van One’s first legs went really quickly and smoothly. And after watching the weather reports of looming storms that threatened all day, we were super relieved to get through our first runs without rain. Being in Van One instead of Van Two was kind of awesome. We showed up at our vehicle transition area to meet up with Van Two, who had been eating and pacing and touring distilleries for hours by this time.

We were happy to put all of that to an end though by passing them the baton and watching them run off into the afternoon.

Of course, the first thing we did was eat, making sure to post a photo of us sitting and stuffing our faces to pay back Van Two who had done something similar that morning when we were running and they were eating. Also, one of the people at the table ate an entire pizza. It was IMPRESSIVE.

From there, we drove to the place where we were due to meet up with Van Two later that night and we spent several hours futzing about until Runner Twelve showed up, wet from light rain and wearing a headlamp to combat the darkness, passing the metaphorical torch back to Van One.

Screenshot of a Facebook status. The photo is Chester shoved into a van cup holder with cords and keys draped over him. The caption says, "Chester is being treated poorly."

Some of said futzing around.

Our next legs would all be run in the dark. Last year during our relay, I was the only runner who didn’t run in the dark. My place in the running roster, the pace of the runners who preceded me, and the rotation of the Earth at that time of year in New Hampshire had created a situation where I ran seven miles just after sunrise. It was delightful.

Not so this year.

Another Facebook screenshot: In the photo, it is nearly dark. I am making a sour face. The caption reads, "ABout to head out to Run Two: 5.5. miles along Knob Lick Road. Yes. Knob Lick Road. I'd rather be sleeping."

I texted Alex the name of the road and he texted back “Knob. Lick. Road. Penis.” Upon completion of my leg when I saw his text, I showed everyone in the van and couldn’t stop laughing. In retrospect, maybe it was less funny and/or appropriate than I thought it was.

It had been raining on and off for much of the afternoon, but once it got dark, it rained like a motherfucker. No other way to put it. It stopped raining for a few minutes when I was handed the baton and set off onto the Knob Lick.

The weather though, it did not hold.

I was excited about the novelty of the night run—as well as a little nervous—but I could have done without the uber-novelty of a night run that felt suspiciously like I was running through a shower.

Soon enough, I was slogging through pouring rain. It was very dark on my leg so my entire range of vision consisted of the small area that was lit up by my headlamp. The headlamp did an excellent job, however, of illuminating the diagonal streaks of rain that were driving across my vision.

It was a tough run. I started running steeply uphill before the end of the first mile and stayed running up through mile two. The weird thing is that when it is that dark, there is no way to tell where the hill ends or when there is a slight reprieve in the slope. It all just feels kind of hard and upsetting and all you can do is watch lights of cars or runners ahead of you to see if they look like they’re going uphill or whether they drop out of sight down a slope.

It was brutal. I spent a lot of time wondering if I’d ever been wetter while wearing clothes (highly unlikely); whether I’d run a mile, two miles, halfway yet (no, I hadn’t); why this run sucked so much (ugh, tiiiiiiiired). I didn’t run spectacularly fast on any of my runs, but I actually ran slower than I expected on this one. It just sucked all the life out of me. I was extremely happy to see the transition point.

It felt good to put on dry clothes and sit happily in the van eating those peanut M&Ms and Diet Coke while the next runner set off.

I barely remember the transition where we traded off to the next van. The thing that stands out from that transition was the extremely long walk back to our van during which I stepped in a deep puddle, getting my cushy sport slides wet. I had a sad.

I had a happy though upon hearing that we were headed to some unknown high school to sleep in a gymnasium. We pulled into the parking lot, I grabbed my sleeping bag, and I stumbled off into the gym. As I set my alarm and shoved it deep into my sleeping bag to muffle it, it occurred to me that if overslept, my teammates would never find me inside a sleeping bag in that huge, dark, silent room.

“Wake up at 4 am, wake up at 4 am, wake up at 4 am,” I told my brain repeatedly before I closed my eyes.

I woke up at 4 am, thank God, and I felt GREAT.

Facebook status screenshot: (no photo) "$5 for two hours sleep on that bare gymnasium floor is the best bargain I have ever come across."

Today if you asked me if I’d be willing to sleep for only two hours on a wood floor, I would laugh you out of the room. That night, it was the most luxurious thing I could ever have imagined.

That was short-lived, however, as we rushed off to meet Van Two at the Wild Turkey distillery. If you’re ever in Kentucky and looking for said Wild Turkey distillery, just follow the stink. Because that distillery is at the center of it. Dude. the distilling process smells horrible.

I had made peanut butter and jam sandwiches for our van and was busy digesting that and trying to drink Gatorade as I walked to the visitor center bathrooms with Heather, who was next up to run, and Marc. It was cold, it was smelly, my stomach was unsettled, it was still dark, and all of a sudden I had a life-changing experience.

Facebook status: Photo of a huge bonfire with caption "My trip to the bathroom got waylaid by something waaaaaay better."

Seriously. Life. Fucking. Changing.

Ten minutes by that fire and I was warm to my bones, I smelled only nice burning wood, and Wild Turkey was suddenly my favorite bourbon ever. We sent Heather on her way and headed onward.

The last twelve transition points are really fun because runners are really happy to be done. It’s super delightful.

Except when it’s not. There were a lot of really tough stretches for the people in my van on that last leg. Distances were long, there were lots of hills, and there were evidently some demon horses on the course. (Heather came around a corner in the dark only to have her headlamp illuminate the eyes of a big horse whose head was draped over a fence right next to the road. It was, apparently, both surprising and terrifying.)

I watched each of my teammates set off and finish and it was so exciting. It is amazing to see people who have worked so hard and struggled through injuries or pushed way past their comfort levels to complete something so difficult and wonderful. I was (and am) so proud of each of them—both those in my van and Van Two.

My third leg was motherfucking delightful. It was less than four miles long and even though there were a couple of uphill stretches, none of them were extreme and also, the leg ended with, like, two miles of gentle downhill. I felt like I was flying.

Except, that is, when the runner from the team that started eleven hours after we did blew past me like I was standing still. That’s when I felt like I was trudging along like a hedgehog on sleeping pills.

Before that happened though, I was chugging along up and down some small rolling hills, Michael Franti singing “I’m alive…” on the speaker I had on my waist and I felt so purely good and I remembered exactly why I run. For those moments. For that feeling. For that good.

I didn’t run particularly stellar times this year. Last year during the relay, one of my victories was running so much faster than I’d hoped to. This year it was about loving my team and recognizing how much stronger my body was than last year. It was about knowing that an extra three minutes on a leg or a slow slog up a particularly hard hill isn’t that big of a deal in a world where I am willing to spend 32 and a half hours in a van with people who cover 200 miles on foot.

Being a runner, for me, isn’t about being the fastest or the first. It is about finding that feeling. I don’t always find it, but when I do, it is magic.

There are always hills and valleys though. The non-magical time of trying to comb a day and a half worth of knots out of my hair followed immediately after my magic run. It was ugly. It turns out that the braid was not the miraculous “keep hair neat” tool that I thought it would be. Still I emerged victorious. Eventually.

From there, all I had to do was cheer on our runners until we passed the baton to Van Two for the final time. And from there, all we had to do was go to lunch. Chester joined us in his own way.

Three photos of Chester. The first he is sitting next to a bucket of peanuts, the next he is holding a peanut sitting next to the bucket of peanuts, the last, he is sitting IN the peanuts.Last year, as a member of Van Two, we ran all the way to the end. This year, we drove to the finish line and napped in the van until it was time to shuffle over to meet the rest of our team. It was awesome.

Even more awesome was watching our last runner race down the road to where we all joined her in running and/or limp-running the last few meters. It was really cool to be able to cross the actual finish line with everybody.

Photo of Chester with a big medal around his neck. The medal shows two people dancing on a disco floor. The medal reads "Bourbon Chase Fever."

Did I mention that this year’s Bourbon Chase had a disco theme? Because if you don’t know that, this medal doesn’t make sense.

The finish line party featured bourbon and beer and lots of food and juuuuuust a little bit of rain and it was perfection.

Facebook status: Photo of Chester sitting behind a plate with a beef pulled beef sandwich, two cookies, eans, and coleslaw. He sits next to a beer. The caption says "Kentucky, motherfuckers."

We ate a lot of food and I couldn’t even finish my whole beer, like a loser.

And then I started to feel like I’d fall asleep if I sat down, so I was part of the group that championed a return to a hotel, but not before I texted this victorious photo to Alex.

Photo of me holding my medal, which is around my neck.

Tired, but proud and happy.

And that is 8.3% of Team MLC’s story of the Bourbon Chase 2014.

I’m so grateful to have been able to be on a team with these awesome people. Thanks for being so wonderful—all of you!

Two photos, one on top of the other. The top photo says "before" and shows all 12 of our team standing in front of our van smiling. It is before the race. The bottom one reads "...and after" and shows us wearing our medals after crossing the finish line.

Team MLC rocks!

Bourbon Chase or Bust

Graphic that reads "Team MLC will run for bourbon." The graphic is an outline of Kentucky, a stylized runner, and a jug of alcohol.Today I ran my last training run before my relay race, the Bourbon Chase, which starts Friday morning.

My team of twelve and I will run 200 miles through Kentucky. Yes, we will run past distilleries. No, we’re not allowed to drink on the race.

I’m pretty excited for this relay, which is a big change from last year’s race when I was panic-stricken during the days leading up to the start. Naturally, this means that it will pour rain or something the whole time and I’ll be miserable.

(pleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorain)

I’m hoping it is fantastic, rain or no rain. Either way, it will be an adventure. We have such a great team that I can’t imagine it won’t be awesome. (Famous last words.)

My team has a Facebook group that you are welcome to join to keep track of our progress if you’d like. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/296287543915022/ We’ll be using this to communicate between our two team vans, so you should be able to see how we’re doing there. I’ll also be sharing updates on Stimeyland’s Facebook page. And probably my own Facebook page.

Huh. So many Facebook outlets.

(I probably won’t be updating Ello though because I don’t understand how to use it.)

I leave on Thursday morning. Wish us luck!

If you are interested in reliving the joy of last year’s relay, here are the links:

#racemadness (Includes your guesses in the comments as to what MLC stands for.)

33:36:26

Reach the Beach 2013 Race Report: Victory in New Hampshire!

Alex Is Furious With Each and Every One of You

Photo of Sam holding a package of reeds and an instuction book that says "Bassoon" on the front.Well. I don’t know that I have ever gotten so many comments that ALL agreed with each other. And for the record, I agree with you all too. And we all agreed soooooo vehemently that I almost feel bad for Alex and his pro-flute position. So let’s all give Alex a big virtual hug and a sympathetic head bob and then we can move on to celebrating how awesome *I* am for having had the right answer. Also, Sam. Sam gets some kudos for being all right too.

p.s. Thank you all for every single one of your very thoughtful comments. I so appreciate every one of them!